Friday, March 13, 2015

Skeptical Fallout from "Secular Heresy"

Who here disagrees with the following statements?:

Just because someone can kill you for disobedience does not mean that their authority over you is somehow "valid": Does the mugger have authority over you because he's got a gun and wants your wallet? What if he donates the money to a school? Does that make it okay to steal from you?
` Just because someone has been coerced into doing something, it doesn't mean that anyone has had the "right" to coerce them. It simply means that they were coerced. Is that simple to understand?

A relevant example of the logical fallacy called Argument from Force would be: "We're right because we will revoke your privileges if you disagree." Another one is, "Our god's laws apply to you because we force everyone to comply."
` A different logical fallacy, called Argument from Consequences, goes, "I know that Santa Claus has been here because there's presents under the tree." Or, in keeping with my theme here, "we have already punished people for breaking our rule; therefore this rule applies to you."
` Note: The morality of these actions is another issue, which is why punishment for violence or theft (mala in se) is a different matter than punishment for drug possession or parking violation (mala prohibita).

That was essentially my point in a previous article Anatomy of a Secular Heresy. In it, I argued that laws cannot apply, period, because governmental authority is not based on facts and evidence. Instead, it is based on violent coercion, the opinions of dead lawyers, and propaganda.
` Rather than voluntary reciprocity and win-win outcomes, the violence at its core creates an abusive relationship between the government and the governed.

When so-called government authorities are asked for evidence that laws apply to people living on the land, they don't even attempt to provide any. Instead, they either stay silent, issue threats, or spew logical fallacies, distortions, and platitudes on par with such famed shysters as Duane Gish, the young earth creationist for which the Gish Gallop is named.
` Marc Stevens, which I mentioned in my article, has won this kind of debate in front of courts, because no one could provide evidence that the law applies to him. The burden of proof is on the lawyers, judges, etc. to provide evidence that the laws apply -- and even they fail at this.

Rules are a good thing, in my book -- the problem is that people are initiating force in the name of the state, an assumption that's not valid. The state is an abstraction that does not correspond to anything that exists outside of people's imaginations and beliefs -- it is fictional. Even if it did exist, that would not in itself be evidence that laws apply.
` Acting as though it is real does not make it real any more than acting as though gods exist mean that they do exist, much less have authority over people's lives. And so, just saying that laws apply to people because they believe in it, or because they live within the imaginary borders of a fictitious state, is not evidence that the laws apply.

Atheists of course understand that one cannot break the laws of a deity (fictional entity) if that deity does not exist. They also understand that if nutball church leaders, Scientologists, ISIS, etc. turn on them for heresy, that does not in any way validate any presumed religious authority.
` Besides Antarctica, there is no land one can escape to in order to avoid people with guns imposing laws upon them. So, it isn't a matter of 'just move somewhere else' -- it can't be done, unless you can somehow support yourself in a frozen wasteland.

My point was that the world's governmental "authorities" have no evidence to back up their position of power. Because of this, they must use the initiation of force and beguiling legalese to confuse dissenters. Therefore, the relationship between the rulers and the ruled is based on abuse and parasitism, not evidence, much less respect or cooperation.
` I did not propose a solution to this problem, other than to mention that it is possible to use private companies for emergency services and to build roads, schools, etc., without coercing people to pay for them. After all, who builds the roads? People do.
` Saying that the state builds roads is like saying that God builds churches. The difference is where the money comes from: At the point of a gun, or a voluntary agreement?

For the purposes of my argument, however, it is not important whether it is possible to be governed voluntarily, based on agreement rather than coercion. My argument was that government authority is grounded in abuse rather than evidence, and it is invalid because it is unproven by those who assert its validity.
` Importantly, there is no possible way to vote for someone who can end this abuse, since by definition, the system is based on it. You can only vote for rulers who aren't as abusive as the ones before, rather than voting for leaders who will end this abuse altogether.

I suppose I should have made these points more explicit before inviting Skeptic-type people to try to poke holes in my reasoning via Facebook. I can at least say Luc Vande CasteeleVince Lynch and Robert von Schryvers 'liked' my article on Facebook, and others told me they agreed with it.
` I posted this article on Facebook in order to get feedback, but was not prepared for the sheer amount of logical fallacies which came with it. I found it to be quite instructive as far as what distortions to address before inviting people to critique the argument. Here are the comments in all their glory, plus additional commentary from me:

John Ohannesian I agree with much of this in theory, but that is what it is, an idea about reality.
  • An idea about 'reality'. What does that mean? Reality consists of concrete matter, not ideas in people's imaginations. My idea is to ask for facts and evidence rather than base my decisions on hearsay.
  • People have a consensus view of reality we operate with and if something has representatives and power it isn't non-existent, at least to itself, and therein lies the rub, as you stated, one can be in a lot of trouble if one doubts another's realness.
  • They're not representatives in power, they're just people playing roles. Like priests, their "authority" is not legitimate. I don't recognize it because there is nothing to recognize. I'm not anti-government for the same reason why I'm not anti-god or anti-leprechaun -- there's nothing to be against.
  • It seems like another form of dehumanization to not work with common reality and expect others to also go along with a theoretical concept when a concrete fact lies in front of one.
  • That is like saying that it's dehumanizing not to work with the idea of slavery, back when it was considered "common reality". Of course, slavery was never part of reality, it was just something that people did to one another. It was a relationship with made-up roles -- there is no such thing as slave and master, just people who are able to force other people to do what they want.
  • We invented government and nations, but that doesn't mean they are non-existent, but their forms are defined by everyone in their own understanding. Abstract ideas have concrete ramifications. Why must you vex me so? 
Certain individuals with military power invented them as an excuse and justification to control people. They are imaginary constructs, not an invention like a clock, therefore that means they don't exist. If there's no people to imagine a country, what happens to it?

Of course, this isn't the response I actually put on Facebook, that's below:

  • Spoony R Quine John -- I'm not sure what you mean about dehumanization. I think it is dehumanizing to be treated as though the government can't trust you and needs guns to coerce you to do what they say.

    Making states up does mean that states don't exist. The Inquisition shows concrete results, people once had to bow to the church or be killed. Or even be killed anyway. God has never had to exist for it to happen.
    Yes, people's idea of god existed, but ideas are not the real thing, they are "the matrix".

    I vex you because I like you.

  • Matt Crowley "One of the most important things I've ever learned is that the map is not the territory -- we eat the food, not the menu."

    "In reality, nature is the only thing that we know exists -- matter and energy. Abstractions do not exist in material reality."

    Yes, these are true statements. They fall within the branch of philosophy known as "ontology" which is the study of existence. The sorts of issues you address have been debated for thousands of years, quite formally by the Greeks. If you want examples of the reification fallacy, look into "Platonic Realism." 

    While the philosophical insight you have discovered is probably true, it's only the tip of the iceberg as far as philosophy is concerned. Good luck on future endeavors. 

    Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to...

Red herring -- that was not my point. The point is that because states are imaginary, governmental authority doesn't rest upon anything. It's a scam. You give us some money, we will spend it how we like to spend it, and you may get some kickbacks if you get plenty of fiber in your diet, etc.

  • Ben Radford John and Matt are correct; the things you claim "do not exist," such as countries and governments, do indeed exist. The same can be said of corporations: there is no physical entity called Apple or Toyota; it is instead a network of people working for a common purpose under commercial guidelines. That doesn't mean that corporations don't exist.

    Actually, it does. Corporations and governments do not exist in the universe, persisting independently of the imagination. They are, by definition, legal fictions -- emphasis on fiction.

  • The claim that that "the government is just an abstraction, largely enforced by lying sociopaths with weapons" is demonstrably false; the city I live in, Rio Rancho, has a government, and is not "enforced by lying sociopaths with weapons" in fact most of their enforcement is by bored cubicle gov't office workers pushing paper.

      Okay, so he is literally saying that there is a government because there is a government. Circular reasoning, anyone? Indeed, if those government cubicle paper-pushers didn't have lying sociopaths and police, with real weapons, to enforce their opinions, then they wouldn't have any power.

  • Government authority is not "pure fiction," as you claim; government has a very real authority, and it is based on collective social agreements about what the laws are, and each person can choose, to some extent, whether to be subject to those laws.

    No they can't. Next time you are pulled over for some stupid shit, tell the cop "I choose not to be subject." Even if it were a collective social agreement, that's called tyranny by majority, or Argument from Popularity. There's still no evidence to back up the claims to authority.

  • If you don't like them, you can move, you can emigrate to a different country with different laws, or do what the Romany do and lead a nomadic lifestyle. Laws are created by people to be enforced on people; the public has the power to overturn laws they see as unjust (anti-marijuana laws, anti-gay marriage laws, etc. etc.).

And how many people are in prison from these unjust laws? It didn't work for them -- that's magical thinking: There's no place on earth to go. Besides, why should I have to leave? Why can't they just leave me alone?

  • Robert von Schryvers Oh cool, a challenge. This will be fun, let’s unpack this:gish gallop:
    [He then proceeds to do so, but I think I've got it handled here in this post.]
  • Ben Radford You referenced Native American tribes in your piece, but a tribe only exists in the same way that a country or a government or a company exist--not as a discrete physical entity but as a collective agreement or understanding. That doesn't make it fictional. Tribe boundaries are fluid, just like governments (hence the phrase "quasi-governmental" agencies), and may include members from outside a particular ethnic group, so an outsider may become part of the tribe, in the same way that a tribe member may lose status in that tribe (such as ostracism/banishment or in the case of countries, being stripped of citizenship). None of this means that countries or tribes don't exist.

Yes it does. Citizens don't exist, neither do tribal members.

  • Any collective or group of people (countries, bowling teams, companies, clubs, etc.) has rules and laws that its members willingly agree to abide by if they wish to be part of that collective. These rules and laws are created by members for members; you don't have to abide by them--but they don't need to accept you if you refuse, it's your choice. None of these groups are fictional or imaginary, and those rules and laws are written down for all to see and abide by. Their authority is not a fiction, it is derived from collective agreement of the governed.

In other words, it is based on opinion. A collective agreement is a collection of opinions. That's not evidence. You may as well say that God's authority is not a fiction because it is derived from collective agreement of the followers. Just try disagreeing once and see how much you matter as part of the "collective agreement".

Spoony R Quine Ben, corporations are legal fiction, they most certainly do not exist as entities. Their evidence is 'people doing stuff'. In religion, the evidence for deities is also people doing stuff.

You say your city has a government. There's also no such thing
 as a city in the same way that there is no such thing as a forest. Trees and other interlocking parts exist, but 'forest' is an abstraction.
Cities and forests are abstractions that correspond to reality. Governments are abstractions that don't correspond to anything.
As far as lying sociopaths with weapons, I am talking about politicians, police officers, etc. try telling them that the state doesn't exist and you will see how they lie and attack you. Did you see the Gish gallop filled video in my article?

True, you can move from one farm to another, but that doesn't mean you can escape people's beliefs in laws. Everywhere you go, you risk getting your head blown off for not obeying.

You can overturn laws, but that's like saying that you can overturn Pinocchio. I find that simply not believing that anyone has any authority over me at all is 100% accurate, as long as no one is there to physically threaten me for disobeying. Do your parents have authority over you, or are you a grown man who is capable of making his own decisions? The only time I bow to authority is when they have a gun and I don't want to get shot.

I didn't say that tribes exist, nice try, Ben. Yes it does mean tribes don't exist. All groups are fictional and imaginary, only the people are real. Just because it is written does not mean it is real. The word of god is written down, does that mean that it's really the word of god?

Collective agreement, eh? I don't agree to abide by any governmental laws, anywhere, ever. So, i am not part of any such collective agreements.

  • Matt Crowley Ontology 101: Things that are not materially real can have different ontological status. A tetrahedron is an abstraction, a Leprechaun is a fiction. Governmental authority is an abstraction, not a fiction.

According to the internetz, fiction is: "invention or fabrication as opposed to fact." Or even "a belief or statement that is false, but that is often held to be true because it is expedient to do so."
` Abstractions are not real; they don't exist. Narnia doesn't exist because it does not persist in spacetime. If we said it existed, would that mean it exists? It doesn't matter whether we live our lives by a fiction or not -- it is still imaginary. 

  • Robert von Schryvers How specifically is Governmental authority an abstraction? Is it not a claim much like the claims of authority of Sharia law or the Bible, just an assertion by people? What evidence exists for that claim independent of personal opinion or 'because we said so'?. Much like the number three is an abstraction of a specific quantity in reality, that quantity persists without the abstraction of three, there will be a quantity relationship of 'three apples' even if there was no human in existence to abstract the idea of three, how so the claims of authority of people? What is the ontological status of 'because I, or we said so'? see
    An object of the mind is an object which exists in the imagination, but which, in the real world, can only be represented or modeled. Some such objects are mathematical abstractions, literary concepts, or fictional scenarios.
  • Mary Hazel Nice discussion! What if none of this is real. Including you and me?

  • Robert von Schryvers Mary, if that was so, who (what) is asking that question?

  • Anthony Jacquin Do 'you' have a location? Do you have a center?

  • Robert von Schryvers Is Mary made of matter and energy, is that falsifiable?

  • Anthony Jacquin Is there a consensus regarding the nature of matter Robert?

  • Robert von Schryvers what do you mean by nature of matter? and why is a consensus important?

  • Anthony Jacquin Because you asked if Mary is made of the stuff?
    If Mary loses a finger is she any less Mary? Or is Mary intact?
  • Robert von Schryvers Ah I see, you know I'm using identity as a language convenience to not induce too much cognitive dissonance . she asked about "you and me" not this and that

  • Robert von Schryvers Matt are you conflating physical laws (properties of space time)with legal opinions (because we said so)? Like if legislature deemed the speed of light was not 299 792 458 m / s on Sundays it would change?
  • Anyway, this is Spoony's thread, I'll let her play fallacy whack-a -mole with it as she's smart as heck, and needs practice to get her arguments tight.
  • Mary Hazel Go SPOONY!

    • Matt Crowley 
      • "How specifically is Governmental authority an abstraction?"

      Because it consists of a set of laws. Both "sets" and "laws" are abstractions.
  • Government does not consist of a set of laws, it consists of opinions backed by threats. That's what "law" means.

      •  ·"Matt are you conflating physical laws (properties of space time)with legal opinions (because we said so)? Like if legislature deemed the speed of light was not 299 792 458 m / s on Sundays it would change?"
      • A legal law can be expressed as a conditional statement about human affairs. All conditional statements are abstractions. "IF you don't pay your taxes THEN the state will seize your property and/or arrest you" is a conditional statement. In a sense it's a physical law, albeit only insofar as humans are subsumed under the laws of physics.

        So, a legal law is only sort of real? In a sense, grapes are birds, insofar as they're multicellular organisms. Legal laws can be expressed as conditional statements, but that's not what they are. How a thing can be expressed and what a thing is are two different things -- the map is not the territory.
        ` To say that because a song can be expressed as an idea, that does not mean that all ideas are songs.

      • One can substitute "government" for "university" in Ryle's example of a category mistake:
      • "The term "category-mistake" was introduced by Gilbert Ryle in his book The Concept of Mind (1949) to remove what he argued to be a confusion over the nature of mind born from Cartesian metaphysics. Ryle alleged that it was a mistake to treat the mind as an object made of an immaterial substance because predications of substance are not meaningful for a collection of dispositions and capacities.
      • The phrase is introduced in the first chapter.[2] The first example is of a visitor to Oxford. The visitor, upon viewing the colleges and library, reportedly inquired “But where is the University?"[3] The visitor's mistake is presuming that a University is part of the category "units of physical infrastructure" or some such thing, rather than the category "institutions", say, which are far more abstract and complex conglomerations of buildings, people, procedures, and so on."

      A category mistake, or category error, is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category,[1] or, alternatively, a property is ascribed to a thing that could not possibly have that property. An example is the…
A university consists of people doing stuff, sometimes in university buildings. Universities as objects or entities in themselves do not exist.

  • Scot Bastian Spoony, I have two basic objections to your argument. 1) Just because something is imagined, invented, or created does not mean it doesn't exist. A couple of simple examples: it is estimated that the universe came into existence about 15 billion years ago. It exists. 2) Property lines delineate the borders between my land and my neighbors. They are arbitrary, but not fictional.
  • Property lines are not arbitrary, in that they have a particular reason to be created, yet they are fictional, in the sense that they only exist as ideas. If there were no minds to think of them, they would not persist. They do not exist independently of minds. They do not have an independent being-ness in time-space.

  • 2) Government serves a very real function of protecting people and property.

    That is not an argument over whether it exists, that's an argument over whether it should exist. That's like when my one ex-roommate would argue that we need God for morality. Or that I should want to believe in God because then I could be saved for all eternity.

  • For example, if I was attacked without provocation I would call the police, and, I would hope, that they would come, with guns, and enforce my rights to go about my business unimpeded.

    So, this is based on the assumption that we need to have a state in order to have people providing security services, which is demonstrably false. How many security firms are there that have nothing to do with the state? States build roads as God builds churches -- in other words, they don't. It's just people.

  • Government also serves to organize our collective concerns to provide solutions: Building roads, courts, airports, national parks, etc. This is not a defense of the excesses of government control, of course, but for some problems, the best, and most viable, solution is a group effort.

Thus implying that group efforts, such as Boeing, Microsoft, Apple, Starbuck's etc. could not exist without a state. It's just people doing stuff.

  • Spoony R Quine Matt, how do you know that governmental authority is not a fiction? All I have to do is say that laws do not apply to me, and they do not -- but only because they never applied in the first place.

    Mom: you are indeed real and solid, whether I believe you are there or not!

    Scot, wtf? The universe is not something we made up.
    Property borders are fictional, you forget that you are only pretending that they are real. You can also pretend that God is real and then forget that you are pretending and declare him to be real. That's called faith. Doesn't mean that God is real.
    Scot, just because people of the church may protect others, or kill others, depending on the situation, that does not make the authority of God real. Your examples of calling the police, building roads, etc is simply a logical fallacy called argument from consequence.
    I never argued that a group effort is not the best. As I said in my article, we can do all these wonderful things without belief in government.

    Matt again: Weasel language and word salad do not make legal laws in any way like physical laws. I cannot break physical laws because they control me.
    In a very real way, I cannot sin because biblical laws don't exist, in the same way that I cannot hate God because God doesn't exist.
    Legal laws are so far outside of my reality tunnel that it is similarly meaningless to speak of them as though they have any real bearing on me. I can't break legal laws because there are none to break.
    I can't disobey Allah either for the same reason. If you want to chop off my head because I don't recognize Allah as real, that's your problem, it doesn't in any way prove that Allah exists.

  • Robert von Schryvers You go Bene Gesserit

    • Gary Peterson Spoony...Reification is a problem when it promotes miscommunication. This leads to confusing perfectly good ideas and words with existing things. In my field, words like the “mind” or “personality,” are fine as long as it is understood they do not refer to things like a piece of paper or something that is found in your pockets, or a ghost in the brain. Such ideas, concepts, yes abstractions, do have good uses however, and I would argue, they do refer meaningfully and appropriately to behaviors, preferences, events, thoughts, etc., that are linguistically valid. You seem to recognize the problem of reification but then use it to create a straw-man argument. If the government cannot be said to exist like my pen or a piece of paper, it can only be an abstraction and must not have meaningful use or refer to anything “real.”

      Abstractions can be meaningful and useful, like 'north', 'three', 'red' or 'forest', but that doesn't make them real.

    • Unless those birds stop at the border and immediately turn around, there can be no meaningful use of the term border, boundary, etc.

      No -- meaning is created by us, reality is not. I never said that the abstraction of the state is not meaningful, I am claiming that there is no evidence that it does exist. I'm also claiming that it is a harmful idea.

    • This implies you are actually still clinging to the desire to see what’s “real” only as a physical thing.

      The fact that I don't believe in God must be because I'm clinging to the desire that the spirit world doesn't exist either, right? Or maybe I just believe that based on evidence.
      ` You see, he's accused me of offering a straw man, and his evidence is to offer a straw man of his own.

    • You then set up an “either-or” argument that pre-determines your rejection of such concepts. If any idea or something has no physical reality then it is not real, meaningful, and can be dismissed even as spirituality might.

      What is "meaningful" and "real" are separate questions. People can find meaning in non-real things, that's not the point I'm trying to make.

    • I think the problem is you embrace reification. You expect a government or geo-political entity to be physically real? If it’s not, then you dismiss reasonable uses of the term? 

      Assuming he meant the problem is that I don't embrace reification, that's like saying the problem is that I don't embrace faith, or fallacies. I don't expect a geo-political entity to be physically real -- the problem is that people in power assert that the state is 'real' without evidence.
      ` And what does "reasonable uses" mean?

    • When you ascribe such negative and emotional characteristics to government (violence and sociopathy) and the people whose work and cooperation make up such governing, you seem to engage in begging the question, emotional reasoning, and again, presuming what you should be exploring. 

    That's the reification fallacy again, and begging the question (circular reasoning). I am not ascribing these characteristics to "government" because "government" is a nominalization of the verb governing. Also, I am describing behaviors of these people who are governing. Pot; kettle, kettle; pot.

    • Namely, what are the problems, advantages, dangers and positive possibilities of different ways to govern and coordinate human endeavors?

      The problem is the gun in the room -- being coerced rather than having an opportunity to participate voluntarily.

    • This requires an open-ness that seems lacking in the tone of your post.

      Ad hominem: "You're wrong because you're not open-minded." First person to use ad hominem loses!

    • Because there is abuse in families, collectives, cities, neighborhood, state, and governments should not rationally lead us to disband or dis-regard all human order. 

      Red herring -- I've never said that.

    • The fact remains, as others have already noted, that you are talking about human beings who recognize the need to organize, cooperate, determine geo-political boundaries for (historically) important and adaptive reasons.

      Sophistry -- "the fact remains". People can organize and cooperate (real actions) without geopolitical boundaries (imaginary things). One does not equal the other. There's no relationship.

    • You expect no human grouping to have controls? Should they have no ways to regulate conduct? Would chaos and anarchy be moral or even adaptive?

      The Mad Max fallacy; "It is impossible to have cooperation without coercion." Do you see the gestapo at Safeway telling us what bread to buy? 
      ` I should have asked: Are you willing to threaten to kidnap me for smoking pot in a place where it's deemed "illegal"? What if I don't want to be kidnapped? Would you blow my brains out? That's what it would take. Under what conditions would you be willing to kill me?

      Does the answer change if you contracted out an "official" third party to do this so that you can't smell the blood?

    Under what conditions would you (the reader) deserve to be killed?

      Laws are not suggestions, they are edicts backed by lethal force. The opinions of long-dead lawyers imposed upon us are toothless without the eminent threat of a violent death.

      "We have to coerce you to cooperate, for a fee." No thanks.

    • There are good families and bad, and according to some (perhaps Shermer?) we have made progress in making such distinctions. Governing is messy, challenging, and yes, fraught with dangers, but lawlessness is not a viable alternative. I have seen similar arguments against governments that seem to imply some anarchist ideals, supposedly transcending concepts of states, but usually even these are bound to cultural values peculiar to those whose identities are historically still tied to geographical and political interests. Are we having fun yet 

    Red herring -- I never mentioned a lack of rules. Not an argument.

    • Spoony R Quine Gary, deities are an abstraction and as ideas, they absolutely can have use that is meaningful to people.

      "Still clinging to the desire to see what's "real" as a physical thing."

      No, that's not it at all. I've had hallucinatory and spiritual experiences that I know are not real outside of my own head, but are among the most meaningful in my life.
      In fact, it is these experiences which show me that my assumptions about the world are only 'The Matrix', and I can actually see the world of nature more clearly because of them.
      Only nature exists, and what I think matters not to the universe. My experiences in my head are meaningful to me, but I will not take a gun and demand that everyone else see things my way.

      My problem is pretty much the same as if the Catholic Church [people who assume it exists] said, "we're taking over, you have to do what we say. If you don't like it, you can go to another church , but you can't leave religion because God is real."

      Living according to the government is basically a role playing game. You play by the rules, or not.
      My problem with the government is not that it's pretend, but that government officials usually can't admit this. Sure, in private they may say, "by the way, laws aren't real [are bullshit]", but if you try to assert this in court , you are going to get into some serious trouble.
      If they can't operate via transparency , and be open and honest about this, and instead enforce laws with violence, that means that they need guns to prove their authority.

      The Catholic Church used to use weapons to prove their authority all the time. The government does the same thing -- if you don't see things our way, you should be killed!

      I think that the government would be meaningful and useful to me if they did not use violence to get their way.
      My psychotic, gaslighting abusive narcissist dad used to say, "I am your father!" And I would think, Ok, he contributed sperm to my existence.' I seriously had no clue that he was effectively saying "I am the law!" until years later.
      He also used to say, "I clothe you and feed you and this is the thanks I get?" I would think, 'Well yeah, people in prison get clothes and food too.'

      Any relationship that is based on violence, distrust, and lies, is not a healthy one. I know you must understand this well. Just because I depended on him for survival didn't mean that he had any rightful authority over me.

      The relationship between the governors and the governed is an abusive, codependent relationship, because it is based on violence and distrust and thus coercion.
      I have no problem whatsoever with a system of government that is based on trust and cooperation. This system is a kind of anarchy and it is based on voluntary participation. No one coerces you into paying for roads in the same way that you are not coerced into paying bills.

      Lawlessness, as you envision it, is very different from my vision.
      We need rules to protect one another from those individuals who are prone to harming others. Security forces are needed to keep these people in check.
      Laws, on the other hand, are opinions with guns. Even a parking ticket has potentially lethal force behind it if you don't pay.
      It all does, because violence is at the root of modern government [and throughout history]. I don't play by those rules. [My rules are mainly, "do no harm".]
      Threatening me with eternal damnation does not motivate me into embracing your god. It only makes me think, "what an asshole, I would never worship that god even if it was real."
      I have too much respect for myself than to give into threats and bribes.

      Yes, I am having fun, thank you for raising those points.

    Believe it or not, there are yet more comments. Let them fly!

    • Scot Bastian Let me cite a simple example, I may agree that there is no evidence of the existence god, but there is ample evidence for the existence of religion. The former may be imaginary, but the latter is very real. God may be fiction, but religion is not.

    • Robert von Schryvers she's going to need a backhoe

    • Scot Bastian Government, with the consent of the governed, is a form of "group effort."

    • Ben Radford "So, i am not part of any such collective agreements." I don't know about government agreements, but you've agreed to lots of collective agreements. The Facebook Terms of Service, for example, contains pages and pages of things you've agreed to, whether you realize it or not...

    I was never coerced into joining Facebook. I will not be threatened for not participating in Facebook. The issue is not about agreements, it's about the gun in the room.
    ` There's a difference between sex and rape, trade and robbery, contract and fraud, visiting and kidnapping. When people use violence against others, we say it's bad. But when the governing people steal money, magically it's not theft. When they arrest people for possessing drugs, it's not kidnapping if you make magical exceptions to our basic moral rules.

    Claiming to know what I've agreed to is the Mind-Reading Fallacy.

    • Robert von Schryvers Ben has just won the JREF challenge without realizing it 

    • Scot Bastian If everyone "behaved" themselves, and everyone agreed what is proper behavior, it would be a lot easier. A simple example. We have speed limits, that are enforced by an arm of the government (the police force). Yes, "people with guns." How else would you enforce speed laws?

    "Everyone" -- the all-or-nothing fallacy. Also, the Equivocation Fallacy -- X means Y. Security is routinely enforced without having anything to do with states. How were rules enforced before states were imagined?

    • Ben Radford If you ask people for their feedback and responses to something you write, it might be a good idea to take that feedback and responses in a more considered and respectful manner.

    Ad hominem -- ...because?

    • Scot Bastian "I have no problem whatsoever with a system of government that is based on trust and cooperation. " "We need rules to protect one another from those individuals who are prone to harming others. Security forces are needed to keep these people in check." Sounds like we agree. Government, with the consent of the governed and the need for "security forces" to enforce the laws.

    • Spoony R Quine Matt: There are no universities outside of beliefs, only people doing stuff. The reification fallacy strikes again!

      Scot: I should probably tighten my definitions.

      God is to religion as the state is to government.
      Just like God, the state doesn't exist, and the 'religion' based on the state is no more valid than a religion based on God.
      If you would prefer to believe in some religion (any government) that would kill you for disobeying, because it is based on violence, that's your choice.
      However, I don't have to believe. If I were trapped in a sharia law zone, I still don't have to believe. I may cover my face and pretend to believe, but that is just a protective measure.

      I don't believe, and will never approve of this religion based on violence!

      Thank you all for your comments!
      Thanks for all your logical fallacy-ridden counter-arguments! I know I asked for counter arguments that aren't full of fallacies, but yours were quite useful and fun for me to refute. 

    • Ben Radford "Thanks for all your logical fallacy-ridden counter-arguments!" Yes, that's exactly what happened. You sure showed us!

    • Robert von Schryvers NaA [Not an Argument]

      • Spoony R Quine Ben: Ok, here's the difference between government and Facebook:
        You are born into a government just like you can be born into the church. You never agreed to be part of it, and yet the government people will not allow you to have no government.

        You may be indoctrinated into the government, but you can use your mind to escape, as with the church. At least the church will not force you to join another church if you want to leave.
        If you disobey the government, they can justify using violence against you. They can legally kill you even if you never harmed anyone in any way. Happens every day.

        Facebook is a social media platform that I signed up to use. If you disobey Facebook, they can delete your account.
        I was not indoctrinated by Facebook, was not born into it. I can leave Facebook and not be forced to sign up for another social media platform.
    • Scot Bastian Please don't infer from my comments, that I agree with Sharia Law. I'm certainly not going to defend every form of government. In fact, I don't know of any form of government that can't be improved. I just don't see a way to avoid ALL forms of government. Even a relatively anarchistic organization like Burning Man has it's founding principles and basic rules.

    "I just don't see..." -- Argument from Ignorance.

    • Robert von Schryvers Shes going to need a bulldozer now

    • Scot Bastian For example, a basic rule at Burning Man is "No firearms." Another basic rule is: "No pets." These rules were instituted by the BMorg because they were necessary.

    • Matt Crowley Universities, tetrahedra, borders, and governments are all abstractions. For an abstraction to have any meaning, it must "cash out" as Sam Harris likes to say, in some sort of sense-data. In many cases this cashing out is complex, yet still real. Laws are real whether you believe in them or not, which is why we can have unjust laws.

      So... laws are real, which is why we can have laws. Really?! But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

    • A law against sodomy "cashes out" in being arrested if caught engaging in this activity. The handcuffs on your wrists are as real as it gets, and they got there because of an abstraction known as a law.
    • Scot Bastian ...and some people who have "handcuffs on their wrist" should have handcuffs on their wrists.

    • Spoony R Quine Scot, I agree, with consent of the governed you can have a group effort, and that is the kind of cooperation I don't mind. However, there is no consentual government today: you cannot really consent if there is corporal punishment which says that you consent.
      There is no such thing as a voluntary compulsory government -- that a contradiction in terms.

      For example, you must pay taxes at the threat of violence. This includes filling out a tax form. None of this is voluntary, and just because you filled out the form does not mean that you consented.
      As an analogy, you may have a rapist pointing a gun at you and telling you to take your clothes off, so you take your clothes off. Then he says that his raping you is consentual sex because you voluntarily took your clothes off.
    • Scot Bastian I think you will find it difficult to find "universal consent." Many folks disagree on some of the most basic of things. I mentioned speed limits and property rules. Dispute resolution is an important part of government. I disagree with both you (and Ben for that matter) that (to summarize) if you don't like the rules, play another game. (Basically, the "America, Love it, or leave it" argument)

      That's like an abusive spouse saying, "If you don't like the abuse, you can just leave your house and find another place to live." In other words, it is blaming the victim.

    • You're right, we are born into our society. Sometimes it is awful hard to address real or perceived injustices. Examples that you and I might agree on are institutionalized racism and sexism, unsupportable military initiatives, the drug war...I could go on, but all this is an argument for better government, not the elimination of government.
    • Spoony R Quine Scot, believe it or not, speed laws are not always enforced by people with guns. In Mexico, for example, they have speed bumps in residential areas that physically keep people from speeding. On the Autobahn there is no speed limit, yet there are few accidents. Etc.

      Your logical fallacy is called argument from ignorance.

    • Scot Bastian Nope. It is just a plain old disagreement.

    "No it's not" is plain old disagreement. "I can't imagine how we would resolve disputes, enforce speed limits, etc." is argument from ignorance. "I don't know how people would be good if they didn't believe in Gawd!"

    • Scot Bastian BTW the Autobahn has speed limits.

      The Autobahn (German: Autobahn, plural Autobahnen)...

    • Spoony R Quine Ok, now that I'm on my laptop, I can see even more comments that were not displaying on my phone. Anyway, thanks for your continued feedback.

      Ben... when you said the public has the power to overturn laws they see as unjust, I didn't say, "Hahahahahah
      aaaa! The public does, but the individual does not." The public is just an abstraction, just as a forest is, so that's BS.

      I will point out, however, that this is just a red herring (one of the logical fallacies that you don't seem to recognize that you have used) as this is not the point:

      What happens if you don't consent? You can be arrested, you can be killed.

      I think what everyone here is missing is that there is a gun in the room: If you don't do it our way, we will force you to. That is my whole entire point. There IS no consent when you are coerced, either implicitly or explicitly.

      And, what are the facts and evidence of authority? Keeping in mind that opinion is not evidence. Argumentum ad baculum -- because they have weapons.

      Also, you claim that you can agree to things that you are not aware of. How is that possible?

      Scot: Indeed, we do agree on having rules and security forces. That is not government, in the sense of a state which has a monopoly on the initiation of the use of force. Key word, initiation.

      Just because you can't imagine a voluntary society does not mean that it cannot exist. Further, saying something OUGHT TO BE real doesn't make it real.

      With Burning Man, no one uses violence to make you go or leave, unless you break the rules, and you can come and go as you please. It's voluntary. Completely different from a government.

    • Kathy Moyd 
      "There are no countries, only areas of land. I should note here that the belief that government is real is an example of the Reification Fallacy. One of the most important things I've ever learned is that the map is not the territory -- we eat the food, not the menu."

      [Note: I expect there to be disagreements with some of my specifics, but please consider my argument as a whole.]

      But a correct map represents reality. A map without any lines can be useful for locating natural features. A map with lines of latitude and longitude can be useful, for example, for getting from one place to another and for determining seasons and sunrise and sunset (assuming you also accept that the Earth goes around the sun and that the Earth's axis is tilted). A map with cities marked shows areas with concentrations of real people. 

      Similarly, a map with country boundaries shows how groups of people within those boundaries identify themselves or are identified by others and are subject to the governments in the areas where they live. (This map may not be the same for everyone given that there are boundary disputes, but those are localized and don't invalidate the basic premise.)

      Even though "country" and "government" are ideas, individual physical implementations of them are real.

    I agree, as implementations of ideas are real behaviors. Much like the Taliban, behaving in accordance with their beliefs. In law, states are "things", not just "areas". You cannot be sued by an area, so how can you be sued by a state? You cannot be arrested in the name of the dirt.

    Spoony R QuineKathy, I agree that maps are useful. I am not arguing otherwise. What I am arguing is that people mistake the map for the territory, and this is what causes problems.

    • Can you provide the facts and evidence, keeping in mind that opinion is not evidence
      , that borders somehow cause people to be subject to jurisdiction? Just because people in Louisiana are within the borders of Catholic parishes, does that mean that they are all subject to Catholic law. Are people in northern Iraq subject to the jurisdiction of ISIS, because ISIS claims it?

      Also, please refer to the video in my article -- that guy was a public information officer for a police department and he was unable to provide any facts or evidence that borders confer jurisdiction. Just like all the rest of them, including supreme court justices and senators.

      Also I mentioned in the article, there is a $5,000 prize for anyone who can provide facts and evidence that jurisdiction applies because of being "within" a state. Robert von actually bet Scot Bastian $10 to call in and do just that, and he hasn't done it as far as we know.
    • Scot Bastian I never heard about this bet. He did ask me if I wanted to call in. I suspect that the prize will never be awarded, simply because he'll move the goalposts of what constitutes "proof."

    • Spoony R Quine Matt: Okay, what you have done is take the opinions of certain people (which are entitled 'laws' in order to make them 'special'), and by using the equivocation fallacy, you have compared them to the physical laws that exist outside of our heads.

      is making a category mistake?

      You have also said that laws are real because we have unjust laws. That is circular reasoning. Also, it doesn't matter if we think they are just or not. You literally just said that laws are real BECAUSE WE HAVE LAWS.

      Being arrested and having handcuffs on your wrists is the fallacy argument from consequence, no different from 'because we burned them, they were witches.' That doesn't make witches real.

      Scot: You are arguing for the need for security services, with the implication that they cannot exist without a state. Considering that private security services do exist, that you can voluntarily contract with (and cancel the contract, hence voluntary), this is not an argument.

      Yes, I agree that it's difficult, if not impossible, to find universal agreement. And your point is?

      Government is not necessary for dispute resolution. There are private dispute resolutions, are there not? Have you ever settled a dispute without the police involved? That is a non sequitur.

      I'm not arguing for the elimination of government -- that's a straw man -- I am arguing that there is no evidence to support the fiction of governmental authority. As an atheist, can you argue for the elimination of God?

      Ok, if it's just plain old disagreement, then that's a fallacy called 'just because'. Which I made up just now, just because.

      Ok, the Autobahn has speed limits, but my point is there are other ways to enforce safety, without a monopoly on the initiation of the use of force.

      Marc never moves the goalposts. He asks the same question over and over and over and has never changed it for the past ten years. He is asking for the same thing as the JREF asks for -- evidence.

      To get the $5,000, all you have to do is agree to what evidence means -- it is not just opinion, it is not just because someone said so, it is not because people act on their beliefs in the government.

      You're a scientist, you know what evidence is, right? You wouldn't take the word of scientists who say 'because we said so', would you?

    • Scot Bastian Okay, what are "the other ways to enforce safety'? For example, how do you think we should deal with law-breakers? For example, someone robs a liquor store--what is your alternative to using force (implied, or otherwise) to arrest the robber? Reason doesn't always work with crazy people.

    • I'm still baffled on how you can state that there is "no evidence" to support the "fiction" of government. I see evidence of the reality of government everywhere.

    • Spoony R Quine Scot: The burden of proof is on those that say that the state exists.

      Whether we have all the answers to how a voluntary society works is indeed moving the goalposts.

      E.g. If we outlaw slavery, who will pick the cotton, where will these freed slaves live and work? Who the fuck cares, that's not the point, SLAVERY IS WRONG, deal with it!

      Dealing with rule-breakers is another issue. Considering that there are private security forces already in existence, and private arbitration services, I don't see this as an impossibility, it is a reality now!

      Your mistake is conflating force with the INITIATION of force. The robber is the one who INITIATED force. Therefore, it's reasonable to call security and deal with the situation. Self-defense, whether contracted or not, is totally reasonable and necessary, and yes, it does work with crazy people.

      Self defense is reasonable!! Coercion, which the government does, is not!

      And Christians see the reality of God everywhere. Churches, pastors, bibles, TV shows. You don't see evidence of the state, you see evidence of people BELIEVING in the state.

      I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the logical fallacy called argument from consequence. You use it again and again.

    • Scot Bastian Changes have consequences--not always positive.

    Non sequitur -- and it goes on!

    • John Ohannesian An entity that has considerable power over one's actions that has been demonstrated to my satisfaction is real even if you don't think so. When they come for you, use your argument to get out of the trouble. Or fight back, your choice. Denial of existence of an entity that has power over one is self-induced blindness. Calling it non-existent doesn't make it go away. It may be "just an idea" like God, but God have never shown any evidence of actual existence, while government sure has. You are subject to laws even if you don't know about them or disagree with them and it is wishful thinking to believe in magical solutions to real problems. Wishing government and laws didn't exist is truly unreal. Saying it is a philosophical game is how ivory towers are constructed.

    • Spoony R Quine Scot: Did you mean that as an argument? Because it's not.

      God doesn't exist. If I kill someone in the name of God, is that evidence of God?

      If a police officer kills someone unjustly in the name of the law, does that mean that the law exists [is valid]?

      John: Power to your satisfaction is not an argument, it is your personal opinion. If you said that you believe that God's power has been demonstrated to your satisfaction, it doesn't mean that it is real even if I don't think so.

      When the Inquisition comes for you, your argument that God doesn't exist will not get you out of trouble. They will simply burn you for saying that God doesn't exist.

      There is a difference between the state existing and people acting on their beliefs that it exists. Saying that it's real because of violent consequences is, again, argument from consequence, or argument from force.

      You can ask a cop how he has jurisdiction, he may answer by pointing his gun at you, just as a member of ISIS might do.

      "Denial of existence of an entity that has power over one is self-induced blindness."

      No, the entity does not have power over you. People with guns that BELIEVE that the entity exists are the ones who have power over you.

      See: The Crusades.

      If the Insquisitors were after you, would that make you believe in God or in the Pope's authority?

      That's right, calling it non-existant doesn't make it go away -- calling God non-existent doesn't make God go away, because there's no God to go away to begin with!

      What magical thinking creates evidence that anyone is subject to laws?

      Wishing God and Allah don't exist is truly unreal, because ISIS is killing people, so that means that Allah exists, right?

      Saying that slavery and religion are a philosophical game is how ivory towers are constructed. Really?

    • Scot Bastian If a police officer kills someone unjustly in the name of the law, that means you have a bad police officer.

    • Spoony R Quine If a police officer kills someone unjustly IN THE NAME OF THE LAW. Yes, because of unjust laws. It's not the police officer that makes the law unjust.

      If you have a "forbidden" plant on you, and a police officer tries to arrest you, and you say, "That's not fair, I didn't do anything wrong, I don't want to be kidnapped at gunpoint, and I will defend myself because that is what is right," then he will kill you in the name of the state.

      That is legal. That is not a bad cop, that is a legal action. The cop will not be punished because he killed you in upholding the law. Remember that virtue and law are not the same.

    • Scot Bastian I already agreed that there are bad laws. Our arguments have been going in circles.

    Okay, first he says that it's the cops' faults if they uphold the law in an unjust way. But that's not true -- the cop is just obeying orders. So, Scot says that he agrees there are unjust laws. Who is moving the goal posts? He is not answering any of my arguments, he is just evading them.

    • Spoony R Quine No they haven't, because you have not recognized the difference between force and THE INITIATION of force. Or, the difference between what OUGHT to be and what IS.

      Christians can argue that God OUGHT TO exist because that makes the universe more fair. Besides, if they don't see any other way for people to get along, well, that must mean that there isn't. Therefore, God must exist.

      Ok -- so far, you have been able to provide evidence that one of my claims, that the Autobahn has no speed limits, is false. Although there are stretches of the Autobahn that have no speed restrictions, there are speed limits in other areas.

      That is the only claim that anyone has been able to refute using evidence. I asked for evidence that the state exists, not just that it OUGHT TO exist, but that it ACTUALLY exists.

    • Scot Bastian I'm kinda done here. I'll just finish with this: If you really don't think the state "ACTUALLY" exists, then what are you rebelling against?

    So, Scot drops out of the argument with a red herring, without addressing anything I've said. By the way, Ben 'liked' this comment after I responded to it:

    • Spoony R Quine Thanks, Scot. That was fun.

      What I am rebelling against is people with guns who are able to impose an inaccurate model of the world on us. Again, see The Crusades. It is like people with swords who say God is real because swords!!

      I can't ignore the swords, but the threat of violence cannot make me believe the myth.

      It's just like Richard Dawkins, etc. rebelling against people who impose religion upon others, at gunpoint or otherwise. You would laugh at the idea that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are rebelling against God, wouldn't you?

      I don't wish the religion of Statethism imposed upon me at gunpoint. That's all.

      I would think that atheists such as yourself would understand the parallels here, yet it's as if I'm talking to creationists about God.

      It is astonishing to me that I have been utterly unable to get this point across for this entire thread. Once you see it, you can't unsee it, but there's no way for you to understand what I mean by that unless you do.

      And it all goes back to cultural conditioning, the Pledge of Allegience, etc. We were raised praying to the state and believing that it is just as real as trees. It takes an awful lot of self-honesty to see how you have been conditioned to justify the INITIATION of force held by a select elite.

    • Scot Bastian One more thing: using this criterion, I can't really prove that art exists either.

    It's not the same criterion -- I am asking whether something exists as matter and energy, i.e. not "pretend". If there were no people around, a sculpture would exist, but the idea that the sculpture is "art" would not.

    • Matt Crowley "Matt: Okay, what you have done is take the opinions of certain people (which are entitled 'laws' in order to make them 'special'), and by using the equivocation fallacy, you have compared them to the physical laws that exist outside of our heads.

      Who is making a category mistake?"

      Physical laws which exist outside our heads? Physical laws are actually ~descriptions~ of reality, and are abstract formulations. F =MA is an abstract description of reality. While the underlying reality exists independently of minds, our formulation of physical laws constitute abstract descriptions most certainly created by humans. 

      Yes, abstract descriptions of physical reality differ from man-made legal laws. Yet both are abstractions, just as the words and symbols used to express them are abstractions. 

    This is yet another distortion. We perceive everything in our head. If you have the image of a tree in your mind that corresponds to a real tree, then you can say it exists in a concrete fashion.
    ` There is a category of abstractions which corresponds to what exists: Numbers are abstractions, yet they are not arbitrary, nor subjective, because they are descriptions of the behaviors and properties of matter and energy.
    ` Numbers are imaginary, but quantity is real -- I can sell you three bananas, but I cannot sell you "three". Speed, relationships, mass, energy, geometrical forms, etc. are descriptions which correspond to what's really in the universe.

    Then there's another category, of imaginary things which are not even an abstraction of what is real. Leprechauns, gods, etc. belong to this category, as do states. There is nothing in 'the real world' which corresponds to the reality of a state, outside of people's imaginations.
    ` Matt has tried to say that the state is in the second category, that it is an abstraction of some real phenomenon outside of people's imaginations.
    ` If there are three rocks and no one around to see them, the rocks would still exist. When the ancient Sumerians disappeared from history, they took the entire idea of Sumeria with them. The land still exists, but the state is not the land, it is nowhere but in our minds.

    • It would be a category mistake to assert that "countries don't exist" because "countries" exist in a different logical category than do rocks or blocks of aluminium. I've never asserted that countries, laws, borders, or tetrahedra are anything but abstractions. Yet even human created legal laws cash out in "events" which are part of physical reality. Being handcuffed is an event. It is a ~consequence~ of breaking a law and getting caught. This is the "cashing out" of the abstraction of a law.

    Right, burning witches is an event, it is a consequence of being a heretic and breaking God's law. This is the "cashing out" of an imaginary God. And God isn't even an abstraction because he doesn't correspond to anything we know of -- God is a fiction. You know, pretend.
    ` Just because a fiction can "cash out" does not mean that it's an abstraction of something real or valid.

    Spoony R Quine

    Scot: That's a very good argument.  Thank you.

    You can prove there are paintings, sculptures, musical arrangements, yes, but those map across to real things.
    Art is imaginary, but not subjective in that these real objects are made of matter and energy. To an ant, it wouldn't be art, but at least the ant can crawl across a canvas even if it doesn't recognize the brushstrokes as a painting.
    You could not say the same for unicorns, because that concept does not map across to anything that's real. Similarly, the concept of the state (or God) does not map across to anything real, even though people believe it does.

    Matt: OK, I think I understand. Very good argument! Physical laws are descriptions of behaviors of nature, which persist in reality whether we exist or not.

    You have said that laws, borders, etc. are just abstractions, yes. Here's what you don't seem to understand:

    "Yet even human created legal laws cash out in "events" which are part of physical reality."
    What do you mean by 'cashed out'? That is a term of art I can't quite pin down.

    What I think you are saying is that, because you get presents on Christmas, that means that the belief in Santa Claus 'cashes out'. Or when you pray and get better, that means that belief in God 'cashes out'.

    Law doesn't come and get you, a person with a belief does, right? How does the belief make the abstraction real?

    "Being handcuffed is an event. It is a ~consequence~ of breaking a law and getting caught. This is the "cashing out" of the abstraction of a law." [Actually, it isn't even an abstraction because it doesn't correspond to anything real.]

    You're basically saying that because we burned witches, that makes witches and magic spells real. Because a belief in witches "cashes out" in witches being burned, right?

    Or am I misunderstanding the term "cashing out"?

    By the way, I want to thank both of you for actually sticking with it and really trying to give me good arguments. And not talking down to me. I really appreciate that.

    • John Ohannesian "What I am rebelling against is people with guns who are able to impose an inaccurate model of the world on us. " Spoony.

      I don't like the hegemony of force either, but it truly is a fact and will never go away as far as I am aware. People use force t
      o get their way, right or wrong. I'm sorry you aren't yet reconciled to this fact about reality, but there it is and it must be dealt with somehow, telling people with guns they aren't being fair is pointless and expecting the state to wither away from harsh criticism is futile.

      "Political power comes from the barrel of a gun." Mao Tse Tung.

    • Spoony R Quine John, thank you for proving my point:

      "it truly is a fact and will never go away as far as I am aware."

      Never is a long time, you mean after humans go extinct/have evolved into some other being? As far as you're aware means that you don't know, so what are you saying it for?

      "People use force to get their way, right or wrong."

      And? For thousands of years we've had slavery, the same argument has been made about that. (Logical fallacy called Argument from Tradition.) What's your point?

      "I'm sorry you aren't yet reconciled to this fact about reality,"

      Reality is that the state is imaginary, it doesn't exist, it is not part of nature, it is part of the collective belief, like gods. Also, the reality of human behavior is that most people don't use force to get their way -- they prefer win-win scenarios.

      "telling people with guns they aren't being fair is pointless"

      If it's pointless, then how can people who act in the name of the state have any assumption of authority or jurisdiction? If it's all "might makes right", there is no such thing as due process, and the entire thing is a fraud, trials are just an illusion of justice, etc.
      ` The burden of proof is upon those who act in the name of the state to prove with facts and evidence that they have authority and jurisdiction, so if it's just arbitrary, the entire body of law is fraudulent.
      ` If it's all 'because we said so', then why bother having a government at all, instead of a common mafia?

      "and expecting the state to wither away from harsh criticism is futile."

      Who claimed that the state would wither away from harsh criticism? Would Pinocchio wither away from harsh criticism? Would God, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn? It's impossible for something to wither away if it doesn't exist in the first place.

      "Political power comes from the barrel of a gun." Mao Tse Tung. 

      So, John, you have concluded that there is no law, only power. And that's true. But the issue is the PRETENSE that the law is somehow legitimate.
      ` Well, there's no evidence that it is, but as you and I know, the participation in a government is non-voluntary. You've made my case quite well. Thanks.

    It's astonishing to me how none of these people, including the esteemed skeptic Ben Radford, were able to offer a single counter-argument to what I've presented in Secular Heresy.

    Is this so hard to understand?:

    The state is imaginary, and so its authority is not based on facts. Instead, it is based on violence, but if you try to point that out in court, they can punish you as a heretic. The people who are supposedly in charge don't want us to realize that. "Go back to sleep, we are in control!"

    Even Matt Crowley has told me that he doesn't understand what I am getting at. To him, it seemed as though I have found some trivial fact (that the state is not a physical entity), and am going on about it as though it is some really huge deal.
    ` When I told him it was about the validity of authority, not about whether the state is a physical entity, he said that's a much more important question. After all, if you are in court being pelted with logical fallacies and lying, that's a serious problem.
    ` Facts and evidence are not needed (nor desirable) when you question whether the court has any authority over you. I do not understand why anyone could hear of this and ask "what's the big deal?"

    Update: After linking this very article to my Facebook, I tagged my dissenting commenters so they would see that this post exists. While Matt has been helping me to consider possible other ways to describe what I am talking about, Gary has displayed another tack....

    • Gary Peterson Sounds like you are on your becoming gifted in rationalizing your argument, selectively picking flaws..only in others's views, ignoring how they correctly identified YOUR fallacious thinking, and then putting it all down to those skeptics not understanding what you really meant to say. Be sympathetic to Chopra and Dr. Oz now...they do the same. Self-knowledge IS really hard...humility is always challenging lol.

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